The Royal Gorge Bridge still stands after a devastating fire that lasted six days burned through Canyon City’s famous Royal Gorge Park last summer. This fire burned across 3,200 acres and into the Royal Gorge Park where more than 48 structures were destroyed.  This summer a crew from the Mile High Youth Corps- Colorado Springs site will assist the City of Canon City with fire restoration and recovery efforts which will include seeding, adding erosion control structures, planting trees while controlling invasive species, and participating in a process called slash and scatter.

Slash and scatter is a process where the Corpsmembers will cut down nearly 3,500 burned trees into small pieces to create mulch which will then be distributed along portions of the burn scar area to assist in new growth and to control erosion.

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In addition to the slash and scatter process, the crew will build nearly 35 log and rock erosion structures, seed approximately 25 acres with nearly 825 pounds of wildflowers and native grass seeds to help stabilize the soil, and the crew will plant nearly 1,000 juniper and pinion pines to replace some of the trees destroyed in the fire.

The work of the Canyon City Crew will be focused on 65 acres along the County Road 3-A where the City of Canyon City dubbed this location as its first priority in the restoration and recovery process.  The majority of the crew which is made up of local Canyon City residents will spend five weeks camping in the back country restoring the famous Royal Gorge Park.

With the first cycle of Energy & Water ending we asked Alex Medina, an Energy & Water Corpsmembers, to reflect on his term. Alex will be returning for the second cycle of Energy & Water this month.


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What were you doing before you joined Mile High Youth Corps? 

Before I joined, I was working at a warehouse.


What were some personal goals you set for yourself when you first started the program? 

One of my goals was to become Corpsmember of the month.


What has been the most unexpected part of being at MHYC?

Getting along with everyone.  The more we got into the program the closer we became.


Has MHYC changed how you view your community? 

It has, I start to talk to people about energy efficient products and how it can save money and waste less water. I noticed a lot of people leave the light on and watch TV with no one watching it. It’s helped change my habits.


What are you most proud of about yourself since joining the program? 

I’ve learned to interact with other people and be more positive. I’m also proud of reaching my goal and becoming Corpsmember of the month.


Congrats on completing your first cycle of Energy & Water and we look forward to hearing about you and your accomplishments during your second term of service!

Over the past twenty-two years Mile High Youth Corps has served over 2,000 youth in our programs but never before has Mile High Youth Corps seen such a high volume of Corpsmembers returning as Crew Leaders. Over the next few weeks we would like to highlight those who have returned to continue their service with us. Before joining Mile High Youth Corps Bridgette had earned her degree in Environmental Science and was studying Spanish in Panama, Jacob was working for Energy Resource Center as a Weatherization Technician. Bridgette was on AmeriCorps Leadership & Conservation (ACLC) crew in 2012 and Jacob was on our Sawyer crew in 2012, then returned for our Fall Hybrid crew and again the next summer for our Sawyer crew. They both had positive experiences while working on their crews, Jacob said, “I really enjoy camping and spending time in the outdoors, but my favorite part is getting the opportunity to connect with other like-minded young people.” Their experiences are what made them want to become Crew Leaders. Bridgette said, “I had so much fun as a Corpsmember in 2012 and learned so much and I thought it would be cool to help other people achieve and experience what I was able to do.” Jacob wanted to lead a crew because he enjoyed the logistics and preparing for the camping trips. Having the responsibility of making sure that they  have everything they need is challenging and fun.

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Jacob is most looking forward to getting to know his Corpsmembers and hearing all of their individual stories. He also hopes to achieve a perfect safety record over the summer and become a more responsible, productive member of the community. Bridgette is hoping to have all of her Corpsmembers earn their education awards by the end of the summer and help people gain a better appreciation for the environment. After completing their terms here at Mile High Youth Corps Bridgette would like to continue her education and move on to graduate school, focusing in Natural Resource Management. Jacob is enjoying the work that he is doing now and taking his time working in his community, he does have goals of returning to school and focusing on a science major. Welcome back Jacob and Brigette! We are so proud of the work that you have accomplished as Corpsmembers and can’t wait to see you grow even more as Crew Leaders.

This past Friday, our Youthbuild Corpsmembers capped their nine-month term at MHYC with a graduation. They crossed the stage to celebrate earning a GED and/or AmeriCorps education award for constructing affordable housing. This was MHYC’s ninth YouthBuild graduation. Like past years, it was an uplifting day that brought together families, friends and staff to celebrate the achievements of these outstanding individuals.

YouthBuild member, Andre Charleston, spoke during the ceremony. “I encourage each one of us to continue to build upon the lessons we have learned during our time here. Everyone sitting here today has overcome obstacles and trials while being in the program. We’ve had babies, deaths, and challenges, which at times left us unfocused and unmotivated. Through all of this, we kept the faith and we are here today as over-comers.”

Andre Charleston gives his graduation speech Other speakers included MHYC Board Member, Dr. Ryan Ross, Senior Program Manager of YouthBuild, Eliska Champagne-Veselka and Regional Director for Metro Denver, Brigid McRaith. Richmond Johnson, another graduate, concluded the ceremony with a poem about his time here.

“YouthBuild listen, we are tomorrow. . .from what I can relate we’re capable of many trends and many things. As a team, we flourish on,” he recited. To read his whole poem, click here

Richmond Johnson shares his poem On Tuesday, YouthBuild began a summer school program for Corpsmembers who are still working to complete their GED. They were reminded that the dedication and resilience that pushed them to complete the regular term will be the same motivators for them to succeed in their tests and future initiatives. Congratulations to the class of 2014!

Here are more photos from the day:

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For more photos of YouthBuild, you can visit here.


I was living to learn now i’m learning to live,
dedicating my life to a world full of kin,
I open my heart’ it challenge the skin,
channel the skills, I’m prevailing a will,
willing to be unlike ever to live,
dedicating my life to a world full of kin,
I open my heart’ it challenge the skin.

Forever and ever dependent on better,
wont settle for less unless better is tested,
shoot for perfection full filling it’s essence,
I can not neglect it; I can not reject it,
if anything’ it’s well respected,
if anything’ that’s my perspective,
by any means’ I’m well invested,
being.. of tuned expression, with no discretion,
is all accepted, I emit direction,
through.. extended questions, inexpensive pleasures,
fundamental perseverance, considered in reconciliation,
but in all reality it’s really what you make it.

And this is my dedication to MHYC.


Ain’t no telling who you’ll meet at M.H.Y.C.

If MOST teachers had a hint of Nikki then we’ll all succeed,
in addition by 5 others: Noreen, John, Dave, Dan, and Fred
I’m grateful unlike any other you got the material through to me
like a knife through butter.

Ain’t no telling who you’ll meet at M.H.Y.C

Its honorable to state that my 1st construction instructor was a woman
and also a hard working non complaining group leader,
ex. When we went to our service project at Revision, not like monkey see
monkey do, more like if we were digging she would be digging too,
but all in all Becky I thank you. Reminder you can’t see until you seek ’cause

Ain’t no telling who you’ll meet at M.H.Y.C

Ms. Shawnetta I would be stuck trying to take girls out on 9 dollar dates
if your budget class wasn’t a competency, secondnized by minty like
candy after the wrapper and helping me equip sharper vision.

Ms. Marissa off top I love your laughter and I appreciate how you would get me
to smile when I wasn’t happy felt and showed me the ropes to get college prep’d
so along with every step on with the next,

Mr. Jason I have an interest in HVAC and dusty shoes I work hard so I’ll easily ruin one of 2, but knowing what to look
for in employment and or career and how to steal a job cause my presentation during an interview was script’d but to the sum of each I thank you for the advantage I have in the tense still I imply when I speak

Ain’t no telling who you’ll meet at M.H.Y.C

Like Eliska she got me in the me in the seat like it’s my bar mitzvah
a start to show the world I love her like my singular of children.
I open up the present like the night before Christmas finalize my gown so why you able get a picture Architects, Engineers

We are tomorrow like wise idols for the next day you each have the capability of world trade, even though we correlate don’t let it interfere with our colleague state from what I can relate we’re capable of many trades and many things as a team can we flourish on if not keep your head up stay positive and live well
and the ones I didn’t mention your still here[mind].

- A poem by YouthBuild graduate, Richmond Johnson. It was presented on June 20th, 2014 for the YouthBuild graduation.

On Friday, June 13th, Mile High Youth Corps had our first Alumni Summer Barbecue. Managed by the Leadership Council, the event brought program graduates, current Corpsmembers, and staff together for an afternoon of networking and fun. This informal gathering was a success, with 14 alumni attending. Participants were able to chow down on food, chat with old friends, or engage in exciting ‘getting to know you’ games, like Human Bingo. We would like to extend a big thank you to the Leadership Council for putting the event together, the staff who volunteered their time, and (of course) the alumni who showed up. Visit the links below for photos, and feel free to tag yourself or your friends! We hope everyone had a great time, and we’ll see you again next year! “I am personally blown away by the commitment of the Leadership Council and our advisors to striving for a successful event. I feel especially grateful to all the staff, Corpsmembers and alumni who attended the memorable and fun day.”—Claire, ACLC








I (heart) MHYC


The AmeriCorps Leadership & Conservation Corpsmembers are half-way through their 10-month term! We asked one of the ACLC Corpsmembers, Claire Morrissy, to reflect on her term so far and what she is looking forward to in the next few months.

Why did you feel ACLC was a good fit for you & what brought you to MHYC?

I came across the job listing for the Mile High Youth Corps a few weeks into my job search in Denver. A month prior I had packed up my car and left home in New Jersey for Colorado with the hope of finding work that was meaningful and would be a direct application of my bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. This position would combine environmental conservation with community building and hopefully introduce me to fun, open-minded young people.

What were some personal goals you set for yourself when you first started the program?

A great part about the ACLC program is that we have so many staff members who are focused on the development of the individual. With their help I made a few goals in the beginning of the term that many people are helping me remain accountable for. My first goal was to manage stress better and not let stress distract me from doing my job as well as I can. My second goal was to lead by example in order to be an approachable and respected leader. My third goal was to be kinder to myself when I make mistakes. All of these goals are works in progress, but a lot of headway is being made just by going through the daily challenges of working as an ACLC.

What has been the most unexpected part of being at MHYC?

For an agency as large and accomplished as the Mile High Youth Corps, an unexpected amount of trust is given to ACLCs and other Corpsmembers. We are responsible for representing the agency everyday while in the field, in addition to more tangible tasks like vehicle maintenance, equipment checks and Environmental Education for the Summer of Service Corpsmembers. This was a welcomed surprise for me. I really like how the ACLCs are given a large breadth of responsibilities and while there is so much support for us we are expected to rise to the occasion and get done what needs to be done.

What were some things you learned during your Energy & Water term? What was your favorite part about the term?

My spring term with Energy/Water exposed me to so many different people and aspects of life in Denver. By engaging with different people about the importance of resource conservation in their homes I gained a lot of skills that I think will serve me well as I search for a career in sustainable community development after MHYC. I’m so grateful to have that experience and I believe the impact of our energy and water audits will have long-term positive effects on the communities of our city.


What crew are you on for the summer? What are you looking forward to most? 

This summer I am a member of the Trail Blazers saw crew. The leadership team has very high hopes for our crew and is already seeing them address challenges and evolve as a cohesive unit since the term began a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to connecting with my crew and establishing myself as a mentor and trusted resource for them. The process of learning chain saw techniques and protocols has been a test of my perseverance and humility, but I only hope to continue to expand my skills throughout the summer.

What is your capstone presentation about? What are the steps you are taking to complete the project?

Capstones are year-long research projects that culminate in two days of relevant service learning. The service learning must occur at a Denver-based non-profit organization that is making an impact on any local social or environmental issue. My partner, Gerardo, and I chose the urban tree canopy as the focus of our project. We were both struck by how a diverse and healthy tree population can have critical influences on the economy, human health and quality of life for community members. While Denver has a superb parks system, we have all experienced the inequities of the lack of green spaces in certain neighborhoods and we hope to work with organizations that are addressing those underserved areas. This topic will cover the ecological aspects of tree canopies while exploring the social and economic indicators of having tree-lined streets in our neighborhoods.

What are you hoping to do when your term ends in December?

The transition from the spring to summer terms has been so busy that I haven’t given much thought to where I’ll go once I complete my 10 months of service in December. Grad school has always been a long-term goal for me and my education award will be a huge help in that regard. Since graduating college, I have been really interested in sustainable community development and non-profit capacity building that integrates climate change adaption plans within city planning. Land conservation can certainly play a role in that but there are days out in the field where I picture myself being on a fire mitigation squad for Denver Mountain Parks. My goal now is to be open to opportunities that I may discover by working with the different project sponsors and to utilize the career and education counselors at MHYC as much as possible.


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